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Aluminum Wiring in Residential Properties: Hazards & Remedies

This website contains extensive information for consumers and building professionals regarding aluminum electrical wiring in residential properties. The contents are the result of study of this topic and represent the opinion of the author. Actual documents, authoritative research, and government resources about aluminum wiring are here. This is the most extensive and authoritative Internet information source for aluminum wiring and related hazards.

The Hazard

 Aluminum wiring, used in some homes from the mid 1960's to the early 1970's, is a potential fire hazard. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, fires and even deaths have been reported to have been caused by this hazard. Problems due to expansion can cause overheating at connections between the wire and devices (switches and outlets) or at splices. CPSC research shows that "homes wired with aluminum wire manufactured before 1972 are 55 times more likely to have one or more connections reach "Fire Hazard Conditions" than are homes wired with copper. "Post 1972" aluminum wire is also a concern. Introduction of the aluminum wire "alloys" in 1972 time frame did not solve most of the connection failure problems. Aluminum wiring is still permitted and used for certain applications, including residential service entrance wiring and single-purpose higher amperage circuits such as 240V air conditioning or electric range circuits.

Reducing Risk

As of the current date of this page only two remedies have been recommended by the CPSC: discontinued use of the aluminum circuit or, less costly, the addition of copper connecting "pigtail" wires between the aluminum wire and the wired device (receptacle, switch, or other device). The pigtail connection must be made using only a special connector and special crimping tool licensed by the AMP Corporation. Emergency temporary repairs necessary to keep an essential circuit in service might be possible following other procedures described by the CPSC. A special installation method is described in the article we posted on 1/31/96 below.

WANTED: Aluminum Wiring Failure Cases & Data for ongoing study on frequency and severity of occurrence of problems. If you have experienced any problem, or symptom of possible problem with aluminum electrical wiring, or have repaired or replaced it, please contact Dan Friedman using the contact information at the end of this page. All information is confidential. Study results will be provided to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and to the electrical industry.

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